Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Calm, Alert and Learning: book study

Our team is completing a monthly book study on Stuart Shanker's book, "Calm, Alert and Learning."  Today our focus was on chapter one: The Biological Domain.  I asked staff to read the chapter and then in small groups, discuss what stood out for you?  What surprised you? and finally, how can this knowledge impact your practice when you are in classrooms?

This is a collection of their thoughts...
What stood out for you in this chapter?
1. The need to "de-clutter" classrooms.  A great deal of visual stimuli is not always helpful.  It can over stimulate students.
2. The concept of up-regulating and down-regulating.
3. There shouldn't be a "one size fits all" approach.  Students are all different. What gets some students going may be too much for another student.
4. We need to give teachers the understanding and the background tools to understand students are not ever "bad."
5. As I write reports, I need to self-regulate.
6. The analogy of self-regulation and cars
7. The Biological domain is included in self-regulation.
8. Shanker includes good, practical ways to explain this to teachers.
9. The more you work toward teaching students self-regulation, the deeper you can go and then children will be better able to understand the nuances and differences in their own self-regulation.
10. The Alert Program is similar to the Zones of Regulation.
11. This would be a familiar starting place for teachers.  The book offers general ideas for teachers or a more structured approach as needed.
12. Activities like soccer or other gym activities take time for down-regulation.
13. We need to take notice of what students are using currently to self-regulate.
14. Look at the environment, the task demands, and then the child. You can never just look at the child.
15 Arousal is not always under the control of the student.

What surprised you?
1. Kids are not bad, you just need different strategies.
2. The more dis-regulated a student is, the more difficult it is for them to become regulated.
3. The assertion that "self-regulation" is going to be the 21st century intelligence quotient concept.
4. That teachers don't all see students as individuals and then plan proactively.
5. Students need a calm and not over stimulating environment.
6. The environment affects the child's regulation.
7. Getting to the right level of arousal takes a great deal of energy from the student.

How will you use this in your work in classrooms?
1. Use this as a reference back to the "why" we need to adapt for students.
2. Remind that visual distractions can contribute to lack of self-regulation.
3. Create "tip sheets" with the summary information at the end of chapters.
4. Help teachers understand that "less is better" in classroom decorations.  Could help to take one thing off the teacher's plate if they didn't feel the need to decorate so much.
5. Give ideas for testing situations.
6. Take note of student needs and point these out to teachers.  Eg. student in class who could not regulate.  Suggestion given for him to put on his coat because he was cold.  Regulation occurred!

What a rich discussion and opportunity to meet together to think about how we can put this material and understanding in classrooms.  I look forward to future discussions as we move forward in this book.

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